Journeyman Project Dispatches from the Life of Patrick Fowler: Christianity Explored

16Oct/080

Christians, Philosophers, and Scholars

Here in the environment of a seminary, I find the most curious perspective. Students and professors alike seem to latch onto a model for church organization or world missions, and because they see it represented in the Bible they believe it is the only valid model for that organization or pursuit. They believe that because the New Testament speaks of bishops and elders, that it is ungodly to have a church that does not incorporate both into their leadership model. Or they love missions so much, they try to build a Scriptural case for every church to give 30% of their budget and service overseas. I cannot tell you how frustrating this is to me! It bothers me that people over emphasize passages of Scripture to support their passions and ideals. To make it seem as if God finds all other church models or missions budgets sinful.

Herein lies the root of the problem...I believe too many scholarly students expect to find every true and worthy thing in the Word of God. They forget that God has given us more than just the Word of God to glean truth from. We have natural revelation, and we have the wisdom of generations of people to look to for knowledge and guidance. The Bible is all true...but it does not contain all truth. We must wisely learn from the world and renew our minds in all the revelations of our Creator, checking everything for agreement to the Word of God, but using all we can to our advantage. Using the great available wisdom of the world and Scripture to help us lead our churches effectively when it fits: strategic planning, financial planning, worship patterns, and teaching methods.

And one more highly-related issue I must address: Don't make the mistake of preaching the wisdom of the world as if it were God's revelation! I see this from leaders a lot too. They latch onto a secular philosophy or financial practice that changes their lives, and instead of sharing it for what it is, they find a similar situation in Scripture and they preach about it on Sunday--influencing their flock to invest in mutual funds as if God mandated it in the Old Testament.

Let me leave you with this very powerful quote from John Stott: My main exhortation would be this: Don't neglect your critical faculties. Remember that God is a rational God, who had made us in His own image. God invites and expects us to explore His double revelation in nature and Scripture, with the minds He has given us, and to go on in the development of a Christian mind to apply His marvelous revealed truth to every aspect of the modern and post-modern world. - John Stott

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